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France: Bordeaux to La Rochelle

Favorite

Cycle the country’s southwestern seacoast, a montage of sun, surf, ancient ramparts, limestone caves, fields of flowers, and some of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France.”

Guided Biking

  • Daily Mileage: 4 - 44|
  • Biking: 2 - 5 hr|
  • Group Size: 20
Activity Easy
Easy
E-Bikes Available
E-Bikes Available
Airplane
Air Package Available
People
Guided Group Tour

Starting From

10-day Bike Vacation + Air Package

$4,395

7-day Bike Vacation Only

$3,395

Per person, double occupancy

France: Bordeaux to La Rochelle

Sun, sea, scenery, history, and cycling are essential ingredients of this spin through southwest France. Behold crashing surf, a wide sky, and fields of wildflowers as you roll along dedicated bike routes toward medieval fortresses, Belle Epoque villas, and idyllic island landscape. Along the way, you’ll stroll ancient ramparts and cobbled streets and feel sand between your toes … climb a lighthouse for sweeping views … venture into caves carved into limestone cliffs … and taste succulent fresh oysters. Only cycling brings you this close to this sensory corner of France.

What to Expect

This tour is rated Easy. Road, hybrid and e-bikes are offered. We cycle several sections of La Velodyssee, La Flow Velo and the bike paths on Ile de Re. These bike routes are on paved roads with shoulder or bike lane or on bike paths, sometimes gravel. We do ride over some cobblestone in Rochefort, La Rochelle, and Saint-Martin-de-Re (we recommend you dismount and walk those sections) and we do cross railroad tracks and wood bridges, which can be slippery (dismount and walk your bike is receomended). There are some genlty rolling hills on Day 3 AM ride between Saint-Palais-sur-Mer and La Tremblade. Wind can be a factor along the Atlantic ocean.

  • Daily Mileage: 4 - 44|
  • Biking: 2 - 5 hr|
  • Group Size: 20
Activity Easy Easy
Cycling
Bar Graph Beginner - Experienced
Cyclists
Vehicle Support Vehicle
Support

Tour Highlights

  • Visit four of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”: Talmont-sur-Gironde, Brouage, La Flotte and Ars-en-Ré.
  • Complement your cycling with swimming at Atlantic beaches.
  • Cycle portions of La Vélodyssée, a coastal bike route offering unspoiled views.
  • Learn for yourself why the oysters of the Marennes-Oléron region are considered some of the tastiest in the world.
  • Visit the well-preserved, fortified town of Brouage, birthplace of explorer Samuel de Champlain.
  • Marvel at the Transporter Bridge, a triumph of engineering.
  • Explore La Corderie Royale, a 17th-century historic monument in Rochefort.
  • Visit l’Hermione, the famous replica of the 18th century 32-gun frigate
  • Delight in the beaches and Belle Epoque villas of the seaside town of Fouras-les-Bains.
  • Join a local guide for a walking tour of La Rochelle, featuring its 14th-century fortifications.
  • Admire Atlantic views from the Phare des Baleines lighthouse or from the Saint-Martin Church bell tower

Climate Information

Temperatures

Average High /
Low Temperature (°F):

May65º/52º

Jun71º/57º

Jul75º/61º

Aug76º/61º

Sep71º/56º

Oct64º/51º

Average
Precipitation:

May2.4 in

Jun2.0 in

Jul1.7 in

Aug2.1 in

Sep2.7 in

Oct3.2 in

What's Included

Bike Vacation + Air Package

Bike Vacation Only

Roundtrip international airfare Check
Transfers to and from international airport Check
One night in Bordeaux and one night in Paris in conveniently located hotels with breakfasts included Check
6 nights in small country estates Check Check
12 meals: 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners Check Check

Tour Bikes

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Road Bicycle (Carbon frame)

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Step-Through (Mixte Hybrid) Comfort Bicycle

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Step-Over (Diamond) Comfort Bicycle

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Electric-Assisted Bicycle (E-bike)

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Biking Packages Include:

Custom VBT Bike and Helmet

Two Local, Bilingual Trip Leaders

Vehicle Support

Luggage Transfers

Ride with GPS and Daily Route Notes

Welcome Reception

Facilitated Cultural Experiences

Your Choice of VBT Branded Gear for Your Adventure

Itinerary

Mon, Aug 24 to Wed, Sep 2 - 2020

Show Itinerary:

Depart from home for France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Upon arrival at the Bordeaux Merignac airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, you must fill out a PIR form before leaving the customs area; VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Also, make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags so that your representative can identify you.

VBT’s local representative will meet you outside the customs area in your arrival terminal and will be holding a VBT sign. They will help you transfer by private car (approximately 30 minutes) to your hotel in Bordeaux to begin your trip. Your hotel room may not be available until 3:00 p.m. If you arrive early, you may store your luggage with the reception desk.

If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please note that our drivers are generally able to wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands, after which you will be responsible for your own transfer. However, they might be able to reschedule your transfer if they are aware of the delay. Please contact Allianz Global Assistance to advise of your delay, and they will contact our transfer service.

You have the rest of the day free to explore Bordeaux. You might visit the Water Mirror, the world’s largest reflecting pool and an urban oasis offering beautiful reflections of the stately Place de la Bourse. Visit La Cité du Vin, a new museum that celebrates wine. Explore the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the cathedral, a marvel of Gothic architecture. Wander the shady lanes of the Jardin Public. And enjoy dinner on your own among the cafés and restaurants that earned the city designation as France’s best food city—ahead of both Paris and Lyon—by the prestigious foodie website Atabula in 2017.

Hotel: Hôtel Mercure Bordeaux Cité Mondiale Centre Ville

Meet your VBT representative/driver at the hotel in Bordeaux at 12:30 p.m. You will transfer by motorcoach (approximately two hours) to La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant. Please plan to buy lunch on your own before this transfer. Please wear cycling clothes (and bring your own pedals and/or saddle in your day pack) in preparation for the warm-up ride. La Primavera Hotel check-in time is 3:00 p.m. and your room may not be ready before the warm-up ride.

La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant is a welcoming, three-star, family-run oceanfront hotel. Perched on the cliffs of the Atlantic overlooking fine sand beaches, this quiet coastal retreat is a perfect place to relax and unwind. In the afternoon, you’ll join your trip leaders for a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a short warm-up ride along quiet country roads. Later, gather with the group for a welcome cocktail. Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today’s Ride Choice:
Cumulative Distance Range: 6 km (4 miles)
Afternoon
Warm-Up: 6 km (4 miles)

What to Expect: Take an easy loop ride starting on the path along the ocean and then through small villages back to your hotel. Except for one moderate hill, the route is mostly flat. The mileage is short, but you can extend it if you wish by cycling to the town center of Saint-Palais and/or to La Grande Côte, a beautiful and famous beach (approx. 0.87 miles/1.4 km from the hotel), passing cafés and terraces along the way.

Your morning begins with a spin along La Vélodyssée, a bike route known for its unspoiled landscapes. Your route follows a coastline called La Côte de Beauté, or beautiful coast. This estuary, where the Gironde river flows into the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest in Europe.

As you enter Royan, you’ll see a memorial to the heroes of the Frankton Operation of World War II. In December 1942, an officer of the British Royal Marines and 11 volunteers from this elite corps carried out a commando raid against German ships in Bordeaux, paddling upriver at night from Royan to Bordeaux. Only two survived.

From Royan, you’ll follow another scenic coastal route, Canal des 2 Mers, to Meschers-sur-Gironde. Once a sleepy fishing village, Meschers-sur-Gironde is now a pretty resort town set between forest and the sea. Here, you’ll have a chance to explore the Caves of Matata—troglodyte caves cut into chalky limestone outcroppings that, through history, have sheltered pirates, plunderers, and Protestant refugees.

From here, you’ll pedal along the ocean to Talmont-sur-Gironde, a lovely and well-preserved village founded in 1284. Today, the village is recognized as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France.” Admire the 12th-century Church of Sainte-Radegonde, whose Romanesque façade defines the skyline, stroll narrow streets lined with charming white houses adorned with roses and hollyhocks. Here enjoy lunch and a wine tasting at Les Hauts de Talmont.

Afterward, cycle or shuttle back to your hotel, where you can relax at the wonderful pool, go swimming in the ocean or take a coastal walk into the charming resort nearby.

Tonight, join your hosts at La Primavera on the terrace for dinner at the hotel.

Hotel: La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 7 – 54 km (4 – 34 miles)
Morning
Saint-Palais-sur-Mer to Talmont-sur-Gironde: 29 km (18 miles)
Afternoon
Talamont-sur-Gironde to hotel: 29 km (18 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s route is almost entirely on paved roads with some car traffic. From the hotel to Royan, you will ride the La Vélodyssée bike route for 10 km (6 miles), then roll along the Canal des 2 Mers for 20 km (12 miles) to Talmont-sur-Gironde. Please note that, when the path is on a sidewalk shared with pedestrians, the pedestrians always have the right of way. Also, be sure to check for traffic and pedestrians at intersections and be mindful of curbs.

The support vehicle shuttle back to the hotel is available if you prefer to pass on the afternoon ride.

This morning, you’ll say goodbye to your hosts at La Primavera and ride La Vélodyssée bike route through countryside and thick pine forest and along the Atlantic coast. The oysters and mussels that abound in the waters off this coast are world-renowned for their quality. View marshes and oyster farms as you spin toward La Tremblade and enjoy a lunch on your own showcasing these delicious shellfish.

Next, discover Brouage, where the ramparts of Cardinal Richelieu’s citadel still stand, overlooking what once was a thriving harbor. The harbor silted up during the 17th century, however, desolating the village below. Today, it is a peaceful community of villagers cultivating the mussel beds. Brouage is also famous as the birthplace of Samuel de Champlain, the navigator who opened Quebec to settlement by the French.

Later, continue cycling to the Transporter Bridge, built between 1898 and 1900 by French engineer Ferdinand Arnodin or shuttle to the historic town of Rochefort. Founded as a naval base during the 17th century, Rochefort boasts a well-preserved Old Town with narrow streets, museums, galleries, boutiques, parks and gardens—and the occasional costumed villager. Here, you’ll settle into your hotel. As you enjoy dinner at your hotel restaurant, you can gaze at passing boats on the Charente River.

Hotel: Mercure Rochefort La Corderie Royale Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 20 – 72 km (12 – 45 miles)
Morning
Saint-Palais-sur-Mer to La Tremblade: 31 km (19 miles)
Afternoon
La Tremblade to Brouage: 18 km (11 miles)
Brouage to Rochefort: 21 km (13 miles)

What to Expect: This morning’s route is mostly very gently rolling terrain. Some sections along the Atlantic Ocean follow narrow paved roads with some car traffic. You will cycle small roads through the marshes of the oyster-farm region of Marennes-Oléron.

The ride from Brouage to the Transporter Bridge is on mostly flat rural roads with some gentle hills. Cross the Charente River with the bridge’s gondola with your bike and continue riding to your hotel along the marshes and banks of the Charente River.

This morning enjoy a leisurely breakfast before you begin cycling to Fouras on sections of La Vélodyssée and La Flow Vélo bike routes.

Spin along the Charente River and on country roads, passing canals, meadows, and villages en route to the charming seaside town of Fouras. Located on a small peninsula on the Charente-Maritime coast, Fouras attracts visitors for its beautiful beaches and pretty Belle Epoque villas. Here, you’ll find a lovely oceanfront promenade, beaches, a polygonal tower, a covered market, and boutiques. Explore this gem of a town at your leisure and enjoy lunch on your own.

After lunch, cycle back to Rochefort, where you’ll enjoy an included visit of Rochefort’s most famous ship replica, l’Hermione, which General Lafayette sailed in 1780 to support the American Revolution and which foundered in 1793. The replica was constructed in 1997. If you have time, stop in for an optional visit of La Corderie Royale, a17th-century royal rope-making factory that was nearly destroyed during World War II. Today, it is a historic monument and International Centre of the Sea.

Dinner is on your own tonight.

Hotel: Mercure Rochefort La Corderie Royale Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 18 – 48 km (11 – 30 miles)
Morning
Rochefort to Fouras: 27 km (17 miles)
Afternoon
Fouras to Rochefort: 19 km (12 miles)

What to Expect: Some sections of today’s route are unpaved. The morning ride traces the Charentes River, then continues on flat, easy country roads to the town of Fouras. The afternoon route is similar with scenic variations.

After breakfast, cycle to the historic town of La Rochelle. Dating to the 10th century, this magnificent port town welcomes you with two iconic 14th-century towers and a harbor lined with elegant buildings. Today, the harbor serves as the yachting center of France’s Atlantic coast. Here, you’ll meet a local guide for a walking tour of the town. Take in panoramic views of the sea as you stroll its ancient ramparts, and explore the town’s winding cobblestone streets, medieval churches, and shops. Pause along the Atlantic Ocean in Les Boucholeurs or Chatellaillon for lunch on your own.

Then, rejoin your trip leaders for a shuttle or ride to Saint-Martin-de-Ré, which is notable for its star-shaped, 17th-century ramparts. This UNESCO World Heritage site, whose charming fortifications, half-timbered houses, colorful shutters, historic monuments, and donkeys in trousers are sure to captivate you.

Enjoy a short stroll through the cobbled streets to your hotel, where you may relax or sip a house cocktail. You may also arrange for a spa treatment (advanced reservations recommended; contact the hotel directly) or reserve use of the counter-current pool, Jacuzzi and sauna (service charge applies; 55-minute rental periods). Dinner is on your own tonight in Saint-Martin-de-Ré, where choices abound.

Hotel: La Baronnie Hotel and Spa
Meals: Breakfast

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 13 – 84 km (8 – 52 miles)
Morning
Rochefort to Châtelaillon-Plage: 24 km (15 miles)
Afternoon
Châtelaillon-Plage to La Rochelle: 16 km (10 miles)
La Rochelle to Saint-Martin-de Ré: 25 km (16 miles)

What to Expect: Enjoy countryside roads and coastal views for most of today’s ride. As you leave Rochefort, you’ll ride mostly on flat, paved roads, with a few stretches of cobblestone. Châtelaillon is a great place for lunch: cafés, restaurants, a covered market, and stores. The afternoon ride is a mix of country roads and secondary roads. The ride from La Rochelle to Ile de Ré includes a 3-km (1.9-mile) bridge with a protected bike path on either side.

During the 17th century, Ile de Ré was coveted by many for its position of military importance and its production of salt and wine, leaving a legacy of historic attractions and charming towns and villages that you can enjoy today. After a leisurely breakfast this morning, set off to explore the island. You’ll find that it was made for cycling! The island is flat, and its vineyards, pine forests and, at the more remote west end, oyster beds and salt marshes are crisscrossed with cycle paths that link its 10 small communities.

Start off your island excursion riding along the ocean and through the salt marshes. Pause in Ars-en-Ré for lunch in a local café. After lunch, continue to the youngest village on the island, Saint-Clément-des-Baleines. Salt, wine, and fishing are the longtime mainstays of the economy here. A cyclist paradise, the bike paths take you past dry stone walls and fields of colorful wildflowers, including hollyhocks – the flower of the island. As you ride you may catch a whiff of sulphur from the salt marshes. Highlights of the village include the 15th-cenury locks, the local market, and the Phare des Baleines lighthouse, which you are welcome to climb (257 steps) for sweeping Atlantic views. Then, follow the bike path and bike routes back to Saint-Martin. Climb the bell tower of Saint-Martin Church for one last glimpse of this stone star between land and sea, a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of the Network of Major Sites built by Vauban.

Tonight, gather with your travel mates to sip an aperitif as the sun sets behind the horizon. Then, celebrate your journey and share reminiscences over a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant, La Baleine Bleue.

Hotel: La Baronnie Hotel and Spa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 21 – 45 km (13 – 28 miles)
Morning
Saint-Martin to Saint-Clément-des-Baleines: 32 km (20 miles)
Afternoon
Saint-Clément-des-Baleinesto Saint-Martin: 24 km (15 miles)

What to Expect: The entirety of today’s route follows flat terrain as you cycle toward La Flotte, Le Blois-Plage, and Saint-Clément-des-Baleines. Then, cycle back to Saint-Martin on bike paths and routes.

After breakfast, transfer by private motorcoach (approximately 45 minutes) to La Rochelle train station, arriving at approximately 10:30 a.m. Then, board a TGV train to Paris Gare de Montparnasse train station. Meet your VBT representative on the quay and transfer (approximately 30 minutes) to your centrally located Paris hotel, the Pullman Paris Centre Bercy for a final overnight stay. You’ll have the rest of the day to get acquainted with the city’s historic landmarks, shop, or relax in an outdoor café.

If you have chosen the independent Post-trip Extension to Paris, you’ll remain at this hotel for the next two nights. Upon your arrival, your VBT Paris representative will be there to answer your questions. An optional orientation walking tour of the quartier will be offered. Check your VBT City Information for additional optional tour options.

Hotel: Pullman Paris Centre Bercy
Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast* this morning, you will transfer to the Paris airport (approximately 45 to 60 minutes, depending on traffic) for your departing flight**. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated time.

* Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

** Please note: VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: Breakfast

Wed, Aug 26 to Tue, Sep 1 - 2020

Show Itinerary:

If you would like to transfer with your small group to La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer (approximately two hours), meet your VBT representative/driver and the rest of your group at our hotel in Bordeaux (Hôtel Mercure Bordeaux Cité Mondiale Centre Ville, 18 Parvis des Chartrons 20 quais des Chartrons, 33080 Bordeaux, France, phone +33 5 56 01 79 79) at 12:30 p.m. You will transfer by motorcoach (approximately two hours) to La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant in Saint-Palais-sur-Mer. Please plan to buy lunch on your own before this transfer. Please wear cycling clothes (and bring your own pedals and/or saddle in your day pack) in preparation for the warm-up ride. La Primavera Hotel check-in time is 3:00 p.m. and your room may not be ready before the warm-up ride.

If you arrive at our Bordeaux hotel later than 12:30 p.m. or if you would prefer to transfer to La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant independently, you must take a taxi at your own expense (approximately 250 euros/two hours). Please contact La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant to advise of any travel delays or changes, and the staff will pass your message on to your VBT trip leaders. Contact the hotel if you need help getting a taxi. Alternatively, you may consult the SNCF website https://www.sncf.com/ for train schedules from the Bordeaux-Saint-Jean train station to the Royan, France, SNCF train station (approximately 2 1/2-hour train ride, then taxi from Royan to La Primavera Hotel, 6.8 miles/11 km,, 15-30 euros). Please note that your train may arrive in Royan in the late afternoon, in which case you may miss the warm-up ride.

La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant is a welcoming, three-star, family-run oceanfront hotel. Perched on the cliffs of the Atlantic overlooking fine sand beaches, this quiet coastal retreat is a perfect place to relax and unwind. In the afternoon, you’ll join your trip leaders for a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a short warm-up ride along quiet country roads. Later, gather with the group for a welcome cocktail. Dinner is at the hotel.

Hotel: La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant
Meals: Dinner

Today’s Ride Choice:
Cumulative Distance Range: 6 km (4 miles)
Afternoon
Warm-Up: 6 km (4 miles)

What to Expect: Take an easy loop ride starting on the path along the ocean and then through small villages back to your hotel. Except for one moderate hill, the route is mostly flat. The mileage is short, but you can extend it if you wish by cycling to the town center of Saint-Palais and/or to La Grande Côte, a beautiful and famous beach (approx. 0.87 miles/1.4 km from the hotel), passing cafés and terraces along the way.

Your morning begins with a spin along La Vélodyssée, a bike route known for its unspoiled landscapes. Your route follows a coastline called La Côte de Beauté, or beautiful coast. This estuary, where the Gironde river flows into the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest in Europe.

As you enter Royan, you’ll see a memorial to the heroes of the Frankton Operation of World War II. In December 1942, an officer of the British Royal Marines and 11 volunteers from this elite corps carried out a commando raid against German ships in Bordeaux, paddling upriver at night from Royan to Bordeaux. Only two survived.

From Royan, you’ll follow another scenic coastal route, Canal des 2 Mers, to Meschers-sur-Gironde. Once a sleepy fishing village, Meschers-sur-Gironde is now a pretty resort town set between forest and the sea. Here, you’ll have a chance to explore the Caves of Matata—troglodyte caves cut into chalky limestone outcroppings that, through history, have sheltered pirates, plunderers, and Protestant refugees.

From here, you’ll pedal along the ocean to Talmont-sur-Gironde, a lovely and well-preserved village founded in 1284. Today, the village is recognized as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in France.” Admire the 12th-century Church of Sainte-Radegonde, whose Romanesque façade defines the skyline, stroll narrow streets lined with charming white houses adorned with roses and hollyhocks. Here enjoy lunch and a wine tasting at Les Hauts de Talmont.

Afterward, cycle or shuttle back to your hotel, where you can relax at the wonderful pool, go swimming in the ocean or take a coastal walk into the charming resort nearby.

Tonight, join your hosts at La Primavera on the terrace for dinner at the hotel.

Hotel: La Primavera Hotel and Restaurant
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 7 – 54 km (4 – 34 miles)
Morning
Saint-Palais-sur-Mer to Talmont-sur-Gironde: 29 km (18 miles)
Afternoon
Talamont-sur-Gironde to hotel: 29 km (18 miles)

What to Expect: Today’s route is almost entirely on paved roads with some car traffic. From the hotel to Royan, you will ride the La Vélodyssée bike route for 10 km (6 miles), then roll along the Canal des 2 Mers for 20 km (12 miles) to Talmont-sur-Gironde. Please note that, when the path is on a sidewalk shared with pedestrians, the pedestrians always have the right of way. Also, be sure to check for traffic and pedestrians at intersections and be mindful of curbs.

The support vehicle shuttle back to the hotel is available if you prefer to pass on the afternoon ride.

This morning, you’ll say goodbye to your hosts at La Primavera and ride La Vélodyssée bike route through countryside and thick pine forest and along the Atlantic coast. The oysters and mussels that abound in the waters off this coast are world-renowned for their quality. View marshes and oyster farms as you spin toward La Tremblade and enjoy a lunch on your own showcasing these delicious shellfish.

Next, discover Brouage, where the ramparts of Cardinal Richelieu’s citadel still stand, overlooking what once was a thriving harbor. The harbor silted up during the 17th century, however, desolating the village below. Today, it is a peaceful community of villagers cultivating the mussel beds. Brouage is also famous as the birthplace of Samuel de Champlain, the navigator who opened Quebec to settlement by the French.

Later, continue cycling to the Transporter Bridge, built between 1898 and 1900 by French engineer Ferdinand Arnodin or shuttle to the historic town of Rochefort. Founded as a naval base during the 17th century, Rochefort boasts a well-preserved Old Town with narrow streets, museums, galleries, boutiques, parks and gardens—and the occasional costumed villager. Here, you’ll settle into your hotel. As you enjoy dinner at your hotel restaurant, you can gaze at passing boats on the Charente River.

Hotel: Mercure Rochefort La Corderie Royale Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 20 – 72 km (12 – 45 miles)
Morning
Saint-Palais-sur-Mer to La Tremblade: 31 km (19 miles)
Afternoon
La Tremblade to Brouage: 18 km (11 miles)
Brouage to Rochefort: 21 km (13 miles)

What to Expect: This morning’s route is mostly very gently rolling terrain. Some sections along the Atlantic Ocean follow narrow paved roads with some car traffic. You will cycle small roads through the marshes of the oyster-farm region of Marennes-Oléron.

The ride from Brouage to the Transporter Bridge is on mostly flat rural roads with some gentle hills. Cross the Charente River with the bridge’s gondola with your bike and continue riding to your hotel along the marshes and banks of the Charente River.

This morning enjoy a leisurely breakfast before you begin cycling to Fouras on sections of La Vélodyssée and La Flow Vélo bike routes.

Spin along the Charente River and on country roads, passing canals, meadows, and villages en route to the charming seaside town of Fouras. Located on a small peninsula on the Charente-Maritime coast, Fouras attracts visitors for its beautiful beaches and pretty Belle Epoque villas. Here, you’ll find a lovely oceanfront promenade, beaches, a polygonal tower, a covered market, and boutiques. Explore this gem of a town at your leisure and enjoy lunch on your own.

After lunch, cycle back to Rochefort, where you’ll enjoy an included visit of Rochefort’s most famous ship replica, l’Hermione, which General Lafayette sailed in 1780 to support the American Revolution and which foundered in 1793. The replica was constructed in 1997. If you have time, stop in for an optional visit of La Corderie Royale, a17th-century royal rope-making factory that was nearly destroyed during World War II. Today, it is a historic monument and International Centre of the Sea.

Dinner is on your own tonight.

Hotel: Mercure Rochefort La Corderie Royale Hotel
Meals: Breakfast

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 18 – 48 km (11 – 30 miles)
Morning
Rochefort to Fouras: 27 km (17 miles)
Afternoon
Fouras to Rochefort: 19 km (12 miles)

What to Expect: Some sections of today’s route are unpaved. The morning ride traces the Charentes River, then continues on flat, easy country roads to the town of Fouras. The afternoon route is similar with scenic variations.

After breakfast, cycle to the historic town of La Rochelle. Dating to the 10th century, this magnificent port town welcomes you with two iconic 14th-century towers and a harbor lined with elegant buildings. Today, the harbor serves as the yachting center of France’s Atlantic coast. Here, you’ll meet a local guide for a walking tour of the town. Take in panoramic views of the sea as you stroll its ancient ramparts, and explore the town’s winding cobblestone streets, medieval churches, and shops. Pause along the Atlantic Ocean in Les Boucholeurs or Chatellaillon for lunch on your own.

Then, rejoin your trip leaders for a shuttle or ride to Saint-Martin-de-Ré, which is notable for its star-shaped, 17th-century ramparts. This UNESCO World Heritage site, whose charming fortifications, half-timbered houses, colorful shutters, historic monuments, and donkeys in trousers are sure to captivate you.

Enjoy a short stroll through the cobbled streets to your hotel, where you may relax or sip a house cocktail. You may also arrange for a spa treatment (advanced reservations recommended; contact the hotel directly) or reserve use of the counter-current pool, Jacuzzi and sauna (service charge applies; 55-minute rental periods). Dinner is on your own tonight in Saint-Martin-de-Ré, where choices abound.

Hotel: La Baronnie Hotel and Spa
Meals: Breakfast

Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 13 – 84 km (8 – 52 miles)
Morning
Rochefort to Châtelaillon-Plage: 24 km (15 miles)
Afternoon
Châtelaillon-Plage to La Rochelle: 16 km (10 miles)
La Rochelle to Saint-Martin-de Ré: 25 km (16 miles)

What to Expect: Enjoy countryside roads and coastal views for most of today’s ride. As you leave Rochefort, you’ll ride mostly on flat, paved roads, with a few stretches of cobblestone. Châtelaillon is a great place for lunch: cafés, restaurants, a covered market, and stores. The afternoon ride is a mix of country roads and secondary roads. The ride from La Rochelle to Ile de Ré includes a 3-km (1.9-mile) bridge with a protected bike path on either side.

During the 17th century, Ile de Ré was coveted by many for its position of military importance and its production of salt and wine, leaving a legacy of historic attractions and charming towns and villages that you can enjoy today. After a leisurely breakfast this morning, set off to explore the island. You’ll find that it was made for cycling! The island is flat, and its vineyards, pine forests and, at the more remote west end, oyster beds and salt marshes are crisscrossed with cycle paths that link its 10 small communities.

Start off your island excursion riding along the ocean and through the salt marshes. Pause in Ars-en-Ré for lunch in a local café. After lunch, continue to the youngest village on the island, Saint-Clément-des-Baleines. Salt, wine, and fishing are the longtime mainstays of the economy here. A cyclist paradise, the bike paths take you past dry stone walls and fields of colorful wildflowers, including hollyhocks – the flower of the island. As you ride you may catch a whiff of sulphur from the salt marshes. Highlights of the village include the 15th-cenury locks, the local market, and the Phare des Baleines lighthouse, which you are welcome to climb (257 steps) for sweeping Atlantic views. Then, follow the bike path and bike routes back to Saint-Martin. Climb the bell tower of Saint-Martin Church for one last glimpse of this stone star between land and sea, a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of the Network of Major Sites built by Vauban.

Tonight, gather with your travel mates to sip an aperitif as the sun sets behind the horizon. Then, celebrate your journey and share reminiscences over a festive farewell dinner at a local restaurant, La Baleine Bleue.

Hotel: La Baronnie Hotel and Spa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today’s Ride Choices:
Cumulative Distance Range: 21 – 45 km (13 – 28 miles)
Morning
Saint-Martin to Saint-Clément-des-Baleines: 32 km (20 miles)
Afternoon
Saint-Clément-des-Baleinesto Saint-Martin: 24 km (15 miles)

What to Expect: The entirety of today’s route follows flat terrain as you cycle toward La Flotte, Le Blois-Plage, and Saint-Clément-des-Baleines. Then, cycle back to Saint-Martin on bike paths and routes.

After breakfast, transfer to La Rochelle train station by private motorcoach, arriving at approximately 10:30 a.m. Important: Train departures from La Rochelle train station prior to 11:00 a.m. are not recommended. If you depart earlier, you must make transfer arrangements from the last hotel at your own expense. Taxi cost to the La Rochelle train station is approximately 49-62 euros (travel time approximately 45 minutes).

If you have chosen the independent Post-trip Extension to Paris, you’ll remain at this hotel for the next two nights. Upon your arrival, your VBT Paris representative will be there to answer your questions. An optional orientation walking tour of the quartier will be offered. Check your VBT City Information for additional optional tour options.

Meals: Breakfast

Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With Low-Cost Trip Extensions

Airplane

Air Package Only

2020

2020 Pre-Trip Extension - Bordeaux

2 Nights From $345 per person, double occupancy
Single Supplement: From $245

  • 2 nights at the Hôtel Mercure Bordeaux Cité Mondiale Centre Ville
  • Daily breakfast
  • City Information
  • Airport transfer

Depart from home for France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

Upon arrival at the Bordeaux Merignac Airport (BOR), claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, you must fill out a PIR form before leaving the customs area; VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Also, make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags so that your representative can identify you.

The representative will be will be waiting outside the customs area in your arrival terminal and will be holding a VBT sign. They will assist with your transfer by private car (approximately 30 minutes) to your hotel in Bordeaux. The rest of the day is free to explore the city, using VBT’s City Information as your guide. Choose a restaurant for dinner on your own.

If you are going to be delayed meeting our transfer representative for more than 15 minutes due to delayed or lost luggage, please note that our drivers are generally able to wait for up to 45 minutes from the time your flight lands, after which you will be responsible for your own transfer. However, they might be able to reschedule your transfer if they are aware of the delay. Please contact Allianz Global Assistance to advise of your delay, and they will contact our transfer service.

Please note: Your hotel room may not be available until 3:00 p.m. If you arrive early, you may store your luggage with the reception desk.

Hotel: Hôtel Mercure Bordeaux Cité Mondiale Centre Ville

Enjoy a full day to explore Bordeaux. You might take the tram from your hotel to the tourist office, where you can sign up for a wine tour of the Medoc region. Or stay more local and visit the Water Mirror, the world’s largest reflecting pool and an urban oasis offering beautiful reflections of the stately Place de la Bourse. Visit La Cité du Vin, a new museum that celebrates wine. Explore the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the cathedral, a marvel of Gothic architecture. Wander the shady lanes of the Jardin Public. And enjoy the cafés and restaurants that earned the city designation as France’s best food city—ahead of both Paris and Lyon—by the prestigious foodie website Atabula in 2017.

Hotel: Hôtel Mercure Bordeaux Cité Mondiale Centre Ville
Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, continue exploring Bordeaux. You might choose to experience the city’s multicultural side with a visit to the Saint Michel quarter where you’ll find the Basilique Saint-Michel and the Flèche Saint Michel, the city’s tallest monument. Dinner is on your own tonight.

VBT Air package guests arrive throughout the day.

Hotel: Hotel Mercure Bordeaux Cité Mondiale Centre Ville
Meals: Breakfast

Airplane

Air Package Only

2020

2020 Post-Trip Extension - Paris

2 Nights From $495 per person, double occupancy
Single Supplement: From $345

  • ·2 nights at Pullman Paris Centre Bercy
  • ·Daily breakfast
  • ·City Information
  • ·Airport transfer

Today’s opportunities in the “City of Light” are endless. You might visit the Luxembourg Gardens, located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. After a full day of independent exploration, enjoy one of Paris’ fine restaurants using VBT’s City Information as your guide.

Hotel: Pullman Paris Centre Bercy
Meals: Breakfast

Today, see for yourself why Paris has inspired poets, lovers, emperors, and artists for centuries. Start with a stroll through Bercy Village, which largely consists of small wine warehouses from the late 19th century converted into shops and restaurants. Continue into the adjacent Parc de Bercy, which stretches from the Metro station all the way to the Palais Omnisport de Paris Bercy. This large, neatly planned park offers small lakes and plenty of hidden pathways to explore.

Then, hop on Metro line 14 from Metro station Cour Saint-Emilion; within a few minutes you can alight at Chatelet, Pyramides, or Madeleine Metro to continue your exploration of Paris.

Hotel: Pullman Paris Centre Bercy
Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast* this morning, transfer to the Paris airport (approximately 45 to 60 minutes depending on traffic) for your departing flight**. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the designated time.

* Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.
** Please note: VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: Breakfast

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Dates & Prices

Bike Vacation + Air Package

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Single Supplement: From $845

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